There are several types of customizations. There are standalone applications; for example, a program that every night copies data from a webserver into The Raiser’s Edge without any user interaction. There are VBA applications; processes that react to events in The Raiser’s Edge, e.g. ensure that certain attributes are always entered on saving a constituent. There are plug-ins. These are small standalone modules within The Raiser’s Edge in the plug-ins area of the program. They can do almost anything a stand alone customization can do but do require user interaction in order to start them.
It depends very much what you want to do. The VBA customizations will need the VBA module. The standalone customizations will require the API module. However plug-ins do not require any extra modules. You can find out more about the different areas at Blackbaud Inc or Blackbaud Europe. As for the cost, at one time the cost of these modules varied depending on the number of licenses you had. However, as for Blackbaud’s current policy you would be advised to speak to your Raiser’s Edge account manager.
If you own a licence for Blackbaud Netcommunity then the Raiser’s Edge API is included free of charge.
Just because it is a bespoke customization does not mean that it is expensive. We have these things down to a fine art. We re-use much of our common code to cut down on development time. If you use software developers that are not experts in The Raiser’s Edge and Blackbaud CRM then it would take them much longer and cost more.
You also have to weigh up how much it is going to cost versus how much you are going to save by improving efficiency.
After the project is finished and we need to make a small change to the code are we able to do that ourselves?
Unlike many developers when we develop a customization specifically for your organization we also supply you with the source code that is well documented. This means that if you have to make small changes to the code you are able to do so without having to call us back in.
With today’s technology working remotely is no longer a big issue as it used to be. It is possible to share data and information as easy as it would be if we were sitting in a nearby office. When we work on a remote project we ensure that we overlap the majority of the day with the client. This means that if you are on the west coast of America or Canada we will be available for questions from the start of your working day until about 3.30pm local time.
No, there are some instances where creating a plug-in or standalone application would just be overkill. There are often ways around a problem that would avoid the extra cost. Sometimes this would involve exporting and importing data instead. Sometimes all that is required is a Crystal Report. In which case we would advise this type of solution.
We are big fans of software as a service and make good use of it ourselves as we understand the benefits.
We would love to be able to offer our products and customizations on all hosted environments but at the current time we are somewhat restricted.
At present only two of our products, Chimpegration and Importacular, are available in the Blackbaud hosted environment. Other customizations require us to access the SQL Server database directly. We may need to read from the RE tables or, in the case of Audit Trail, create a table to store the results. At present, none of this is permitted by Blackbaud.
If you are self-hosted or use an independent hosting provider you should have no issue in using our products or customizations.
There is a little uncertainty surrounding how exactly existing customizations will work in the hosted environment. Blackbaud have said that all existing custom products will still work under NXT.
Currently our product, Chimpegration, is the only product we have that supports NXT.
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